OCS - Intelligence Led Procurement

Although the chasm between innovators and the large corporate may be huge, the effort to bridge the divide is not always a one way street. Some large organisations do take a look at how they can reach across to find some of the innovation that...

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Although the chasm between innovators and the large corporate may be huge, the effort to bridge the divide is not always a one way street.

Some large organisations do take a look at how they can reach across to find some of the innovation that could potentially leverage competitive advantage.

And some are constantly looking at how they can make that process easier.

One of the UK's largest privately owned companies, OCS Group is among those. In December last year it went against the grain by selecting a smaller supplier rather than a large one for a critical application - a managed unified communications service, covering the wide area network, land line telephones, mobile telephones and 3G devices. By integrating its mobile and fixed comms OCS will reduce its telecoms spend by 30% over three years while enabling productivity through flexible and collaborative working.

Jenny Sener, CIO and Operations Board Director, is time constrained and unable to spend time with hopeful suppliers, but at the same time she recognises she has to pursue the best solutions to resolve specific business challenges.

To improve the efficiency of supplier selection she has come up with a lateral “intelligence led procurement” process, which is re-tailored for each large IT-related procurement.

Intelligence Led Procurement at OCS
An anatomy of that unified comms deal gives an important insight into how big companies think. It also illustrates how, under an enlightened CIO, procurement can be simplified for the benefit of all, and especially smaller companies that can communicate with a big business mindset.

The winner, Azzurri Communications, by no means had an easy ride, but it had a thorough, decisive and quick ride.

Jenny had gone to the market four years ago looking for a unified comms deal but although the right technology was out there it was too early to go for it. The upfront investment was too big. So she waited for the right moment. That came with the expiry of an existing contract.

The intelligence led procurement approach started with developing a framework incorporating the commercial and technical requirements, and value added benefits (such as green opportunities and collaborative working capabilities).

Cross-departmental team eliminates FUD
This ‘intelligent’ procurement approach included both an internal cross-disciplinary team and expertise from an external industry benchmarking company. The internal team included the ICT infrastructure manager, the procurement manager, a senior legal manager and Jenny as team and strategy leader. The external company provided benchmarking research on best pricing achievable against the requirements, together with best practice on contract structure.

“If you want an innovative approach then draw on the creativity of a ‘team of all the talents’,” she said, “and a killer team like that eliminates the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). With this collaborative approach everybody bought into the final solution too.”

Killer Team - Killer Questions
At the outset Jenny had told the team that she was not going to market for the best telecoms deal - she was going for the best overall commercial deal to meet the current and future company trajectory. So the next stage was asking killer questions to separate out those who really could do what they said they could do.

For more details on the process OCS used to choose a smaller company over a big one to handle its unified communications see my next posting.

* Searching for success: I'm always looking for practical case examples showing how innovative companies have successfully broken through generic barriers into large enterprises or government. Please point me to good examples you know! Thanks!

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